Author: basquebookseditor (page 1 of 6)

Harri mutil, an elephant, and “that was good sheep country”

This past spring your Basque Books Editor had the chance to climb Elephant Mountain, in the far northwestern corner of the Black Rock Wilderness Area, about 7 hours north of Reno by car. This wild and remote mountain, really just a foothill outcropping of the larger Black Rock Range, gets its name from its appearance, of being a elephant charging up the desert. Growing up in this corner of Northern Nevada I spent many days dreaming about that mountain, which in addition to it’s distinctive, imagination-shaping form also served as the edge of the horizon, so, as it were for a young boy riding a horse, it was the very edge of the world.

Elephant Mountain, seen from Leonard Creek Road near the intersection with Pearl Camp Road in northern Nevada

But it wasn’t until a recent weekend that I had the chance to actually scramble up it. On a overcast day we drove south and climbed up along one of its ears. We stopped for lunch in the saddle where ear turns into head and then continued upward. It was a short, steep climb until nearing the top it rounded out and the vast expanse of desert and mountain range after mountain range opened up before us. Loving to explore in the desert moutains, the expanse did not surprise me, but the presence of what was most likely a harri mutil (“stone boy”) did. On the crest, looking generally northward toward the Pine Forest Mountains and eastward toward the Jackson Mountains, and with the full sweep of the desert at its feet, was a large stone marker or, according to Joxe Mallea-Olaetxe in Speaking through Aspens, a “sheepherder’s monument.” These large stone cairns were made by the sheepherders to demarcate ranges, but may have had other uses as well.

The stone marker, looking west toward the Black Rock Mountains proper

The hiking crew, celebrating from where we have come and where we are going!

It was such a pleasure to find this marker, here at the edge of what was once my world, showing what went beyond. I recently had the opportunity to make an oral history interview with Frank Bidart (only 94 years young!) who also grew up in this area when they still ran sheep, and he had told me about trailing sheep down across the desert “almost to Lovelock” in the winter. They would have trailed them just below, maybe across, where I stood. “That was good sheep country,” he had said. Maybe he had climbed here and added his own stones to this harri mutil; maybe he had, as a young man, dreamed about what went beyond it.

Join us in celebrating A Man Called Aita

We are so happy to announce the publication of Joan Errea’s A Man Called Aita. These stories, told in rhyming verse, tell an extraordinarily deep, complex, and moving story about being Basque in the U.S. West and what it was like to grow up on a ranch on the frontier. They tell the story of the life of Joan’s father, aita in Basque, Arnaud Paris, who originally came from Iparralde and herded sheep in Wyoming before venturing out on his own to ranch in Central Eastern and Northern Nevada for many years. There is so much to say about this little book, a true gem of Western Americana, much of it ably done so in Pello Salaburu’s masterful introduction.

“This book narrating the story of Marie’s life is captivating, moving, and very attractive in its simplicity. It shows how wonderful the relationship between the father and daughters was, that Arnaud was a warm man, and that they loved each other a lot and were very close. For Joan, her aita was a role model and a point of reference.”

Here, from A Main Called Aita is the title poem, which says much more than I can:

A Man Called Aita

With a brand new dream, a clarinet, and his suitcase in his hand.

The young Basque came to write his name in the history of this land.

Perhaps he was never famous but the world was a better place.

For the Basque who came and brought with him the faith of his proud race.

In the mountains of Wyoming where he first came to herd sheep,

How bitter were his lessons, how lonely was his sleep!

How many times he lay awake and looked up at starry skies,

Unable to see their beauty for the tears that filled his eyes.

How unbearably cold and lonely it must have been at times,

As he sat upon some windswept hill and wrote his songs and rhymes.

For the young man was a poet, a Basque “Bertzolari”;

And in later years he’d sing his songs to my brothers and to me!

With two dogs for companions, he spent six long years there.

He guarded all the lambs and sheep entrusted to his care.

He loved to dance, he loved to sing; to learn was a burning need;

For the greatest pleasure of his life was a good book he could read.

One day in his quest for books he found a copy of the Constitution.

And he quickly learned of the laws and rules that governed this great Nation.

He left Wyoming for Nevada, where his brother found them jobs;

And the two of them together, tended to the woolly “mobs.”

Now times were hard upon the land and wages seldom came.

Herders were sometimes paid in sheep; mostly the old and lame.

It was so, they built their own herds up and ran them on “tramp” ground.

It was hit and run, first come first served, there was no BLM around.

The grass was there and it was free, but the sheepmen fought each other.

It often came to troubled times with brother against brother.

And so it came to pass with them and bitter words were spoken;

Words that could never be recalled, so the partnership was broken.

The love between them still ran deep but forgiveness had been frozen.

They drifted apart and went their ways on the paths that each had chosen.

And each young man in his own way left his mark upon the land.

So my Father came to live his dream with his suitcase in his hand.

He labored well, and built his dream; he married sweet “Marie.”

He was always known as “Aita” by my brothers and by me.

New York Times celebrates Biarritz

Biarritz, photo by Gilles Guillamot via Wikimedia Commons

The New York Times has published an article on the flourishing life of Biarritz on the Basque coast in France. Makes me want to go for a visit!!!

Read the article here!

Center Advisory Board gathers in Reno for 2017 meeting

Center graduate student Amaia Iraizoz presents her research project, on the return of Basques to the Basque Country after living in the United States, to the board.

This past weekend the Center’s distinguished Advisory Board came together in Reno for its annual spring time meeting. It is a very exciting time for the Center and the board with countless projects and events happening that we were proud to present to the Advisory Board members. The events started off on Friday night with dinner at Reno’s Louis’ Basque Corner and then resumed on Saturday with reports on discussions on many of the things that are going on at the Center including new initiatives, new publications, and much much more.

Eskerrik asko to all of the advisory board members who were able to make the trip, some all the way from the Basque County, and we can’t wait to see the ones who weren’t able to make it in the future!

Gabriel Aresti, the great modern Basque poet, comes to English

We are proud to announce the publication of Aresti’s master works, Downhill and Rock & Core, translated by Amaia Gabantxo and introduced by Jon Kortazar, in complete edition in English for the first time!

These 2 books, Downhill (1959, Maldan behera in Basque) and Rock & Core (1964, Harri eta herri in Basque) were foundations of modern Basque literature and influenced pride in Basque language, culture, and expression for generations of Basques! We are so delighted to bring them to you in English for the first time!

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“From symbolism to the poetry of social consciousness, Gabriel Aresti’s work is considered one of the turning points in the history of Basque literature.” Jon Kortazar, from the Introduction

They’ll say

this

ain’t poetry

and

I’ll tell them

poetry

is

a hammer.

Gabriel Aresti, from Rock & Core

Gabriel Aresti Gabriel Aresti y la polemica del vascuence en los 60

Gabriel Aresti

“That little poem, in many ways, shaped my thought. I took a whole day to write it in beautiful block letters on the cover of one of my school folders. It made me understand the power of the word to destroy, to alter, to undo—and to construct, to rebuild.” Amaia Gabantxo, from the Translator’s Preface

“Gabriel Aresti was the essential poet for my Basque generation of the 1960s. “If you want to write me/You know where I am,” he wrote, “In this most slippery hell/In the mouth of the devil.” It was the hell of Franco’s repressive regime, the endless darkness of his city, Bilbao, turned into an industrial and cultural wasteland. Aresti was the crucified Bilbao writer howling for justice and truth, the vulnerable man of eternal downfall who created a new poetics and a new subjectivity.” Joseba Zulaika, from the Foreword

And check back, hardcover will be available soon

 

Welcome to 2017 at the Basque Books Blog!

Street art found in Iurreta, Bizkaia. Like the image shown here, we want this blog to serve as a bridge for all Basques, whether you are in Basque Country, in the United States, or anywhere else on this great big planet we all share!

Kaixo, hello, egunon to all of our readers as we begin what is going to be a really fun and exciting year here at the William A. Douglass Center for Basque Studies. There is certainly never a dull moment around here and 2017 will be no exception to that. I don’t want to go into too many details about the fun, learning and sharing that we have cooking up here, but you should definitely stay in touch with us by keeping up and following our blog throughout the year to learn more about events, books, cultural happenings and much more Basqueness!

Bookmark us or follow us, we will definitely continue to post on weekdays at 10:00 am throughout the new year. Thanks for reading and all of our best to you for 2017!

On Anboto

 

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The distinctive limestone peaks of the Urkiola Range, Anboto is the peak farthest on the right. From the hamlet of Urkiola.

It’s December again and I can’t believe it has been a whole year since I was last in the Basque Country! Since I wasn’t able to go this year, I’ve been fondly remembering my last time there, especially my last day there, a Sunday when my coworker and his partner offered to take me on a long-desired visit to Anboto. The mountain dominates the skyline of Durango and, just as a hiker looking up at it on breaks from the Azoka Stand, I’ve always wanted to make a shot at it, so I jumped at the chance. Although Anboto is actually lower in elevation than Reno at around 4,370 feet (Reno stands, according to Google, at 4,500 feet), it stands out from the landscape as an overpowering juggernaut. It is an immense mass of limestone, with cliff faces of 1,000 meters (roughly 3,000 feet) over Atxondo Valley. Anboto is one of the most known and most characteristic summits of the Basque Country.

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Looking south from Urkiolamendi Pass at the beginning of the true peak ascent. It is easy to understand the grip the mountain has had on the Basque imagination.

With its distinctive shape, Anboto is not only easily recognizable but it has always played a role in Basque mythology, most famously as the home of Mari, the Basque goddess who is said to control the weather. She is said to live in a cave on the front face of the mountain. She is also known as Anbotoko Mari (“the Lady of Anboto”), She and the god Sugaar were (also known as Sugoi or Maju) connected her to the weather. When she traveled with Sugaar hail would fall. And in general her tos and fros across the sky brought storms or droughts.

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Mari was said to control the weather from her cavern on Anboto.

We left the car at the hamlet of Urkiola, in the Parque Natural de Urkiola, alongside the Sanctuary of Urkiola, a Roman Catholic temple that famously celebrates the Day of Saint Anthony of Padua on June 13. This saint helps those looking for lost objects and for love, but we needed nothing as we started off on a crisp December morning with mountains dotting in and out of thick fog. The walk is a popular one and we passed many other strollers and even some Basque ponies or pottoka.

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A wild Basque pony, clearly used to passersby and photo opportunities, similar to Reno’s local mustangs.

It was so pleasant walking and talking with my coworker and his companion, who have also become my good friends over my years working as your Basque Books Editor. Once we get past the fog layer the day is clear and bright, an anomaly for the Basque Country in this time of year and we soak it in. At Urkiolamendi Pass my companions, having been here many times before, decided that they would forsake a summit attempt and they sent me on alone. Now the trail became braided into various use trails and, with the beautiful day and with the Basques’ love for the outdoors, hiking, and mountain climbing, there were many people on the pass. Climbing up through steep limestone, at first the trail remained in the treeline, but it was truly stunning when it emerged and you could see how very steep this mountain really is.

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That is a long way down!

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The peak in sight now, sharing the trail with lots of visitors

I emerged onto the top of the ridge to a sublime panorama of what seemed to be the entire Basque Country. Durango in the valley below me, farther away toward the coast where Gernika was, and then, over there, even where Bilbao would be although it remained out of sight.

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Emerging onto the highest ridge, looking toward Durango and Bilbao.

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The last climb to the summit, dotted with people.

I started climbing the last, narrow, very steep climb to the summit. I think that maybe Mari go to me, or Sugaar, because I started to get really nervous. My more or less street shoes didn’t seem to be finding the traction they should on the still dew wet grass and the number of people (in Nevada it is much more common to hike alone) made me feel claustrophobic. Particularly one couple, with the man convincing an increasingly reluctant woman that she should continue while younger, fitter people clambered all about us. I was probably only meters from the summit when I realized that it didn’t matter so much, that I had done what I had set out to do and that it was time for me to get off of the mountain without officially having stood on its summit. My companions, a txakoli, and lunch would be awaiting me down at the bottom, while there was only the wind and myth and fate left on the summit. So I retraced my steps. Rejoined my companions for an excellent lunch in Urkiola, and left Anboto behind for another year. I’ll be back!!!

Happy holidays and New Year to all of our blog readers. Thanks so much for following along with us and for staying abreast of what is happening at the Center and in Basque culture. Here’s looking forward to 2017!

Agur!

Your Basque Books Editor

Agur, Joan Errea

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Joan Errea with family. From left to right, standing: Pete Paris, Mike Errea, John Paris, Mary Ann Hammond, Martin Iroz, Stephanie Swan, Lianne Iroz, Scott Swan, Lisa Cassinelli, Kelley Paris, Jack Paris, Katie Cassinelli. Seated: John Paris and Joan Errea. From My Mama Marie.

The Center has lost a beloved author and friend in Joan Errea. The Center published My Mama Marie by Joan, a recounting of her life with her mother, Marie, and her father, Arnaud. Read a bit more about the book in this post from our blog from 2015. It will always be a book that is very dear to your Basque Books Editor’s heart and sets a standard for Basque memoirs. Also, Joan was one my favorite authors to work with, and the day I spent with her signing copies of My Mama Marie at the Winnemucca Basque Festival will always be one of my most treasured memories as your Basque Books Editor. She put so much care and love into every one of the books she signed, talking at length with her readers and friends, many of whom related in many different ways to her story. It was such a testament to the power of writing and words to make a difference in people’s lives.

In addition, the celebration in verse of her father’s life A Man Called Aita won second prize in our literary contest and we hope to publish it as well. Its Basque version, Aita deitzen zen gizona, which Joan translated into Basque herself, appeared this past year, introduced by Pello Salaburu.

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From Joan’s obituary in the Reno Gazette Journal:

Joan Paris Errea was born July 23, 1934 in Ely, Nevada to Arnaud Paris and Marie Jeanne Goyhenetche Paris. Joan, together with her 4 brothers, were raised in sheep camps and ranches in White Pine and Pershing Counties . She and her two younger brothers attended school in Winnemucca after the private teacher at the ranch passed away. Joan graduated from Humboldt County High School in 1952. In 1955, she met and married Louis Errea from Baigorry, France. Joan was a storyteller, poet and the author of several books.”

Funeral services will be held at Saint Paul’s Catholic Church in Winnemucca on Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 1:00 pm.

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Goian bego.

Basque bread, and some beloved neighbors, featured in the John Deere Furrow

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Abel making his delicious french fries for camp visitors.

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The famous bread oven.

Making bread at their Russell Valley, California, summer camp was quite the project for Abel and Judy Mendeguia. Abel, from Lesaka, was a sheepman for many years from northern Nevada to the Central Valley of California, and the couple’s summer camp was a hive of activity, especially on the days that Abel would bake bread using 50 lbs of flour for the sheepherder camps spread across the range. A story that is reported on in “For the Love of Bread: Part 1: Basque immigrants brought a taste of home with them to the American West” by Laura Read in a recent issue of John Deere’s The Furrow. I don’t want to ruin the story for you, but a key part of it is Abel sticking his arm into the bread oven to gauge its temperature. I’m sure anyone who knows Abel can imagine this quite well!

The Mendeguias have been Reno residents for many years since retiring from the sheep business and they are some of the best neighbors anyone could ask for. Abel has volunteered many many years to helping out Reno 4-H sheep project children and they generally invite visiting USAC scholars from the Basque Country and elsewhere to the Russell Camp for a taste of Western life (and some of Abel’s famous fresh cut and made-on-the-spot french fries). His wife, Judy, was from the East and met Abel at a sheep camp on a visit to the West, and then became his lifetime partner.

Abel has an entry, along with thousands of other Basques who came to the US, in Basques in the United States, vol. 1, Araba, Bizkaia, and Gipuzkoa.

Never a dull moment at the Mendeguias’ summer camp!

New Books! The landscape of Basque literature and the Basque Country’s place in the European Union

The publishing season is heating up and Center is proud to announce the addition of 2 new books to our great line up of titles available!

 

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This Strange and Powerful Language, by Iban Zaldua

$20.00 ISBN 978-1-935709-70-1

“This mysterious language, it is very strange, very powerful,” This is how critic George Steiner responded when asked about the survival of the Basque language. Basque is a language isolate, related to none other. It is therefore understandable that Basque literature is mostly unknown, even though much of it is now available in Spanish and English translations. In This Strange and Powerful Language: Eleven Crucial Decisions a Basque Writer Is Obliged to Face, Basque novelist and essayist Iban Zaldua set himself the task of providing a guide for outsiders to contemporary Basque authors.

His concise and readable guide was winner of the 2015 Euskadi Prize, the highest literary honor in the Basque Country. This Strange and Powerful Language is a non-academic work designed for students, teachers, and the general reader. Steiner argued that, while Basque was mysterious and ancient, it was also unimportant— a minor language incapable of supporting a body of literature. Zaldua shows that the truth is just the opposite. Moreover, by choosing to write in Basque, authors inevitably face intriguing literary and political questions of subject matter, point of view, and audience.

As Basque is an isolated language, related to no other in Europe, it is understandable that Basque writers are completely unknown to most readers. Novelist and essayist Iban Zaldua has set himself the task of providing a guide for outsiders to contemporary Basque literature, much of it now available in Spanish and English translation. This Strange and Powerful Language, winner of the 2015 Euskadi Prize for essay, is a non-academic work designed for students, teachers, and the general reader. The title comes from the abovementioned quotation from critic George Steiner.

Zaldua surveys the field of 20th and 21st century writers in Basque, including such acclaimed authors as Gabriel Aresti, Bernardo Atxaga, and Kirmen Uribe, to show that the opposite is true. Moreover, Zaldua demonstrates that by choosing to write in Basque, these writers inevitably faced other dilemmas of audience, subject matter, and style. His witty and intriguing overview shows that Basque is not, as Uribe once described it: “too old, too small perhaps.”  Instead, Zaldua states that a “language like ours presumes a point of difference, and possessing such a differential quality confers a positional, if minor, fleeting, and postcolonial value at the international fair of contemporary literature.” Basque authors, he shows, have earned their place in contemporary European literature; Zaldua’s guidebook will lead the curious reader to explore new writers.

Novelist and critic Iban Zaldua was born in Donostia-San Sebastian in 1966. His previous fiction titles include: Ipuin euskaldunak (Basque Stories, co-authored with Gerardo Markuleta); Gezurrak, gezurrak , gezurrak (Lies , lies, lies); Traizioak (Betrayals) and La isla de los antropólogos y otros relatos (Island of Anthropologists and Other Stories). In 2006 he won the top honor for Basque authors, the Euskadi Prize, for Etorkizuna: hamabost ipuin ia politiko (The Future: Fifteen Almost Political Stories). He is a regular contributor to newspapers and other media in the Basque Country. He currently lives in Vitoria-Gasteiz and is Professor of Economic History at the University of the Basque Country.

Check out a short review of the work at Buber’s Basque Page here.

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Multilevel Governance and Regional Empowerment: The Basque Country in the European Union

$29.95 ISBN 978-1-935709-71-8

How does being part of Europe affect a region, and how does a region adapt to European integration? With the startling vote by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union – “Brexit” – these academic questions take on real world implications. Borońska-Hryniewiecka focuses on one of Europe’s most fascinating regions – the Basque Country – and its political, economic, and cultural evolution within the structures of the European Union.

Past scholarship on the politics and economics of the Basque Country has mostly focused on issues such as nationalism, ethnic identity, or the problems of terrorism. Until now, there has been no full-length study of the development of Basque economic or political positions within European power structures. What is the effect of European integration on regions and their interests? Does the multi-level structure of the European Union empower or dis-empower regional actors? How does it affect their goals and strategies? To this end, the book provides a broad conceptualization of the notion of “regional empowerment”, presents and explains its different types, and tests them empirically in the context of Basque involvement in European affairs. The questions are not as much of particular policies and their results, but rather how policies are chosen and implemented. Studying “the Basque road to Brussels” and its real-world results helps our understanding of other fissures in the European Union, and problems of autonomy and self-determination worldwide.

This inter-disciplinary work bridges political, economic, and legal dimensions of regional participation in EU policy. The audience for this book includes both academia and the workplace: scholars and students in political science, as well as lawyers, economists, and policymakers, in the United States and Europe.

Karolina Borońska-Hryniewiecka (PhD) is a senior research fellow at the Polish Institute of International Affairs based in Warsaw and a lecturer at the University of Wrocław. Early in her academic career she became intrigued by the Basque Country, seeing it as a prism for understanding questions of ethnicity, autonomy, and political structures. She explored the role of the regions in the EU as a visiting fellow at the University of Deusto in Bilbao (2010), and a Jean Monnet Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence (2012/2013).

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